We wanted to know more about the history and traditions of the Seven Nations, the first inhabitants of Canadian lands, so we planned a visit to an Indian reservation during the two nights we spent in the city of Quebec. The chosen one was Wendake, the only one surviving Huron reservation, and where we can find Onhoüa Chetek8e, the traditional site of this people.
Wendake is the modern name for the Huron-Wendat reservation, established in 1673 as a small village (like any other) on the outskirts of Quebec, where the rests of the Huron people live mixing their ancient traditions with the western habits.
As we were told, many of them work manufacturing imitation jewelry and leather, and carving wood. Many of these handicraft pieces can be bought in the shops of the village.
This is a very beautiful and tidy town which conserves its old chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, where the Christians tried to proselytize the natives, and some pretty old wooden houses. Every signboard in the street is written in Wendat language.
It also has the Falaise Natural Park, a walk along the river Akiawenrahk that ends at Kabir Kouba Falls, a 28 meter high water fall which name means “the thousand meander river” or “snake river”. This place is surrounded by many Huron-Wendat myths and legends. In this walk you can also see a mural painted on a stone, which explains in a visual way the role that the different elements of the tribe play (men, women and children), besides the symbology and beliefs of Indian faith and, with a bit of luck, some of the fossils dated more than 455 millions of years old.
The most remarkable thing in this ancient reservation is the traditional Huron “Onhoüa Chetek8e” site, actually not a very big place where it’s recreated the history, culture and lifestyle of Hurons in the past.
After a traditional welcome dance, the walk inside this place includes some perfectly set and explained areas, where the original dwellings of this people are represented, as well as the weapons and hunting methods, the curing and smoking facilities for hunting and fishing, the means of transport (rackets and sleighs), canoe manufacturing, the Shaman tent and the place for sweating, totems and inukshuks, the medicine house… We also had the opportunity to attend to a dance spectacle where we saw traditions like the welcoming to the families of other settlements and the pipe ceremony, and we played war drums with some of them.
This place is really worth of visit, whether if you follow the guided visit or you follow the booklet you’re given, there is a lot of information that the usual cinema doesn’t show correctly at all. For example, the “Indians” from the Eastern regions of America didn’t use the classic “tee-pees”, but houses made of wood and straw up to 60 meters long, where several families lived together, because they weren’t so nomads as we always thought. Instead, they were much more established in wide regions…
The village also has a Hotel-Museum of the First Nations and an amphitheatre for artistic and cultural spectacles, conferences and open air ceremonies.
And finally, and as usual, some photos from our visit:
Tickets: 22$ (including the dancing show)
Address: 575, Rue Chef Stanislas Koska, Wendake, QC
GPS Coordinates: 46.868740, -71.365486
More information: Traditional Huron Site